You know what I hated? History textbooks with timelines accompanying the beginning of the chapters. I remember getting quizzed on these before we even got into the chapter and learned about the events themselves. If that’s not an example of memorization over learning, I don’t know what is. The best kind of timeline is one in which you’re mostly aware of all the timestamps included, and their relativity to each other can be appreciated.
IGN made webpage-dragging history a while back by bringing the Ultimate Sci-Fi Movie Timeline into existence. It’s a well-crafted and beautiful drift through fictional time, with a quickly scrolling foreground set in front of a slowly scrolling background, giving it a vague 3-D feel.
From 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s 4,000,000-year-old sighting of the monolith, past the relative modernity of Escape From L.A., all the way to The Time Machine‘s childlike Eloi, you can view the time settings and brief synopses for dozens of films, some of which appear multiple times because time travel is a bitch, you know?